Life after UniNE

“A double Master’s degree is an undeniable advantage”

Yasemin Hazinedar, intern lawyer at Reymond & Associés

In 2014, Yasemin Hazinedar became a Master of Law with a double specialization in Business and Tax Law and Innovation-Intellectual Property-SMEs. Having worked for eighteen months at MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company), one of the world leaders in cruises and maritime chartering, she is now working as an intern lawyer at a legal practice in Lausanne.

As a legal practitioner in a globally renowned company, you decided to sit your legal practice exams eighteen months after your graduation. What made you take the plunge?

In the long run, I’d like to be able to work in a field more closely related to my Master’s degree. Intellectual property is a burgeoning area, but paradoxically the opportunities remain rare in Switzerland. And employers in this sector prefer candidates who are qualified lawyers. One morning, when I was still working with MSC, I decided there and then: I sent out five applications and… I got five offers. Eventually, I chose the most wide-ranging practice.

Today, my job basically involves answering precise questions from lawyers and clients. There are many procedures, and many hearings to attend. It’s less diversified than the work at MSC, but it allows me to go on to work in the fields of innovation and intellectual property.

What was the impression you got from your first experiences in the world of work?

Legal practitioners are highly sought-after on the job market. Personally, I’ve been very lucky, as I’ve always managed to find work quickly. During my Master’s degree, for example, I had the opportunity to work for the audit firm Deloitte as a fiscal consultant. Deloitte is one of the “Big Four”, the world’s largest audit and legal counsel firms, together with PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst&Young and KPMG. I stayed there for six months, in which time I did a huge amount of work. It was an enormously rewarding experience, but for me it was too far removed from my legal training. I wanted to make use of the knowledge I built up during my studies.

So I applied for MSC, where I was hired as a legal practitioner. For eighteen months, I worked at the group’s headquarters in Geneva, dealing with questions relating to embargos. Despite my junior status, I had many responsibilities and a lot of autonomy in my work. I also had the opportunity to travel, so I could train our various agents on the embargos applicable to MSC. For example, I travelled to Singapore to attend seminars on maritime sanctions and embargos. That was exciting!

How did you manage to tackle your studies and work at the same time?

You need a lot of discipline and to work long hours, even more so with a double Master’s degree. As I like challenges, it never put me off. For instance, I took as many hours of class as I could in the first year, which made it easier for me in the second year, when I worked as an assistant for professor Daniel Kraus - chair of Innovation Law - before joining the audit firm Deloitte. I wrote my two dissertations in my spare time, basically at the weekends. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.

What are the strengths of the study programme you followed?

Undoubtedly, my double Master’s degree. I chose what I thought of as the most interesting topics. In terms of the actual content, I could specialize in the areas I found most exciting. As far as the qualification goes, it’s a fairly rare Master’s degree, so I was able to stand out from the other candidates during the recruitment process. Employers particularly appreciate applicants who have specialized in more than one field. Finally, it’s an undeniable advantage that the tuition is in English. Even though I haven’t yet worked in the areas I studied, my Master’s degree has given me a strong analytical capacity which I use every day.

What are your memories of your time at the University of Neuchâtel?

I have excellent memories of it. I loved the range of courses, the quality of the teaching, the themed seminars, all of which were very valuable. And of course the professors, who were always available and helpful. They were five great years.

What advice would you give to current or future students?

It depends what career path they choose to follow. I’d always advise law students to pick a double Master’s degree. It’s a huge plus on the job market. If they’re hesitating about becoming qualified lawyers, I’d only advise them to do it if they’re sure it’s for them. And that they shouldn’t be afraid: legal practitioners are always in demand. Finally, I’d suggest that they look for a work placement as soon as they start writing their dissertation, even if it means juggling work and study for a while. It’s a risk worth taking!

Interview UniNE 2016